Cleo Diko’s killer sentenced to 20 years behind bars after 425 days of pain and frustration

“Justice prevailed today at the Mitchells Plain Magistrates court as the killer of Cleo Diko, Sandile Jegwa, has been handed down a sentence of 20 years behind bars for premeditated murder. For 425 days, Cleo’s family and friends had to face this murderer time and time again, only to be met with multiple postponements and left the courtroom with more questions than answers. However, they refused to give up, and today, the Mitchells Plain Magistrates court was packed to the rafters with friends and loved ones of Cleo. Ultimately, we would have preferred a life sentence, but it is good to know that he will be removed from society for 20 years, and this will afford Cleo’s family and members of her community some peace of mind.” These were the words of Action Society’s Kaylynn Palm outside the Mitchells Plain Magistrates Court on Wednesday, 27 March.

Cleo’s decomposed body was found stuffed underneath a bed on 27 January 2023 in Mandalay, Cape Town. She had a rope tied around her neck, and her body was covered with tiles and cement. This was after she was reported missing in October 2022, and a major search was conducted to find her. Her family left no stone unturned in getting justice and went so far as to pay for private DNA testing to hasten the process. Jegwa admitted to coldly hitting Cleo with a hammer twice after an argument where he hit her until she lost consciousness. He did not try to help her, but let her die and then buried her body.

“Jegwa is a murderer with a history of violence. He was a menace to everyone around him, and even his family was afraid of his violent behaviour. He deserves to rot in jail for the rest of his life. He has no place in our communities, and the people of Mandalay can rest easier tonight knowing that he has been removed from society.

“Today was a victory for vulnerable victims of violence and murder. We have a long way to go, and we believe heavier sentences should be handed down for crimes against women and children, especially if the perpetrator has a history of violent behaviour. But this was a step in the right direction in our long walk toward creating a safe South Africa for all,” concluded Palm.

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